AKRON, Ohio — Nobody wants to think about winter just yet.
But city of Akron officials say they have been been thinking about snow since icy blasts left city residents stuck on sides streets last winter.
The biggest change is that Akron has ended its longstanding contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation that required the city to plow and salt the 150 miles of interstate roads within city limits. That diverted equipment and manpower, said James Hall, an Akron public works manager.
"Whenever they had a roll over or something on the interstates, our crews would be dispatched to take care of that and make sure everything was safe,” he said. “That responsibility is now falling on ODOT, which gives us a lot more freedom with our forces."
Hall said the relationship made sense for years, allowing the city and ODOT to leverage resources. But, he said, the city needs to redeploy its resources.
An ODOT spokesman told 3News Tuesday that the department has been planning since summer to again manage Akron’s interstate roads and is ready.
Hall said that the redeployment of trucks once used to plow the interstate, combined with the purchase of new trucks approved by Akron City Council, adds 16 trucks to its fleet compared to last year’s.
Hall said not much has changed with trucks and plows but he is optimistic roads will be easier to treat.
“There really is not a better mouse trap at this point to be done that that way but there has been a lot of advancements with treating with liquids as opposed to treating with salts,” he said.
This change comes after the city issued an apology following a January snow storm earlier this year in which residents were angry road conditions were still poor even days after the snowfall stopped.
A strike at a major salt mine last year hinder cities' ability to stockpile salt. Hall said that's not a problem this year.